Kris Barras Band, Liverpool 2022

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Though nowhere near a sell-out it was a healthy sized crowd, fully appreciative of the band's ability and energy.

Liverpool: Hangar 34 - 17th March 2022

St.Patrick's Day in Liverpool would normally be a place I would avoid. Happy enough to make the effort this year though, as it is a journey to see the Kris Barras Band. Hangar 34 is another new venue to me and is actually a fair walk from Lime Street station, past bars and pubs blasting out Irish music and through crowds dressed primarily in green. It is a compact room with a balcony area to the rear, a long bar on one side and plenty of space to move around (initially).

The recently released 'Death Valley Paradise' has more of a Hard Rock edge than the earlier Blues based albums and is the best so far to bear the Kris Barras name. The songs are slightly heavier but also more commercial with a widespread appeal. When I caught the Black Stone Cherry support slot in Liverpool, in the second half of 2021, the album was still in the creation process, though the song 'Dead Horses' was a good indication of the new sound's direction. Kris clearly has faith in the new material as seven of the album's eleven tracks were given an airing in Liverpool. From the opening one-two of 'Hail Mary' and 'Dead Horses' the set had great balance. Older songs such as 'Rock 'n' Roll Running Through My Veins', 'Ignite (Light It Up)' and 'Not Fading' sat nicely next to the more recent 'These Voices', 'Hostage' and 'Devil You Know'.

Kris is an admirer of Gary Moore's Blues phase and he channelled some Moore during the lengthy solo at the end of an extended 'Watching Over Me'. His playing is never over-indulgent and is always expressive and melodic. The quartet is rounded off by Josiah Manning (guitar), Billy Hammett (drums) and Kelpie Mackenzie (bass) and they work really well as a tight unit. 'Wake Me When It's Over' was drenched in passion and emotion and the two-song acoustic segment included 'Heart On Your Sleeve' and a nice rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man'. The anthemic 'Who Needs Enemies' and 'My Parade' brought the main set to a close and the show drew to a conclusion with 'Lovers And Losers'. Though nowhere near a sell-out it was a healthy sized crowd, fully appreciative of the band's ability and energy.

The walk back to the train station was a little chaotic, as the streets seemed busier at 11pm than they were at 6pm. Discussion with a friend turned to the Kris Barras Band and we were both in agreement that stadium-sized venues must only be a few years and maybe another album (with the calibre of 'Death Valley Paradise') away.

Dave Bott

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